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by chocieni
Tue, Feb 19th 2013 12:00 pm





The tax abatements include $36.7 million for Sabres' owner Terry Pegula's $172 million HARBORcenter project


The ECIDA also took initial steps toward relocating its offices

from Genesee Street to 95 Perry Street

Buffalo, NY - The Erie County Industrial Development Agency today approved a nearly $38 million in tax abatements to aid a list of major products with a value of more than $300 million. Topping that list is the HARBORcenter, a $172.2 million recreational and entertainment facility on Buffalo's Inner Harbor.


The project is expected to spawn more than 200 new, full-time jobs, plus another 160 part-time jobs.


The HARBORcenter, a project master-minded by Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula, is a proposed 650,000-square-foot mixed use building to be located on the Webster Block.  That site is currently a surface parking lot, directly in front of the First Niagara Center.


The ECIDA approved a $36.7 million package of tax inducements which includes $28 million in property tax abatements, plus $7.5 million in sales tax savings and $1.2 million in mortgage recording tax aid.


The HARBORcenter will serve at a two-rink hockey complex with seating for 2,000.  Not only is it expected to be a draw for local hockey competitions, but is also expected to home ice for the Buffalo Sabres Elite youth hockey organization and lure regional and national tournaments.  The year round facility will also host the Buffalo Sabres Academy and the Center for Excellence which will provide on- and off-ice development for upper echelon players between hockey seasons.


The HARBORcenter, which will also include a 144,000-square-foot hotel and 20,000-square-feet of retail space, plus a five-story parking structure, is expected to employ 205 full-time staffers and another 160 part-time employees when it debuts in April 2015.


The ECIDA board also approved tax abatement support for two new mixed-use, adaptive reuse projects proposed by Buffalo development Rocco Termini's Signature Development located in the City of Buffalo.


Mr. Termini received $684,000 in abatements for the $20 million conversion of the former FWS home furnishings store, at 1738 Elmwood Avenue, in North Buffalo to The Distillery Lofts.  The project calls for reusing the five-story retail and warehouse complex into a mix of 32 loft apartments, offices, a restaurant and a distillery.


The project is expected to spawn 30 new jobs.


Mr. Termini was also approved for $229,000 in tax abatements for Houk Lofts. That $6.72 million project of a five-story warehouse at 320 Grote St., just off Elmwood Avenue in North Buffalo, to 23 loft apartments and a daycare center with a roof-top playground.


The vacant, 100-year-old, former Houk Wire Wheel building, will also house a hair salon, tattoo studio and other retail.


The development agency board also okayed $61,000 in sales and property tax abatements to the Kittinger Company, Inc. to relocate from the Tri-Main Building on Main Street in Buffalo to smaller quarters at 4675 Transit Road in Clarence.


The world-renowned furniture company, founded in Buffalo in 1866, is looking to streamline its operations and reduce shipping costs in order to remain competitive.  The company researched several sites in the City of Buffalo before choosing to acquire a facility in Clarence.


Kittinger, which currently employs 13 workers, expects to grow its staff to 21 over the next two years.


The ECIDA also tweaked an inducement package for Sonwil Distribution Center, Inc.  Sonwil, which earlier received inducements for a $2 million project at 4900 North America Drive, in West Seneca, has increased its investment to $2.9 million. To aid the increase, the company will get an additional $78,750 in sales tax abatement.


The board tabled a proposal for a $100 million medical clinic at 1001 Main St., on the west edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC). Conventus Partners, LP, a Ciminelli Real Estate subsidiary, wants to construct a six-story, 287,000-square-foot medical office building housing clinical, practical and research office space. 


Conventus is seeking $4.25 million tax breaks for a $100 million medical clinic at 1001 Main St., on the west edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC).


Most of the structure would house medical offices and labs which will provide support services to the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital. The complex, which is expected to create 100 new medical jobs on the BNMC, would also pay full property taxes.


Tax breaks for the project were put on hold in limbo over concerns the building would primarily house medical offices, with no pre-signed tenants committed to bio-medical research.

In other action, the board voted to review a plan to relocate its offices to 95 Perry St. on Buffalo's Inner Harbor.  The move, which was first contemplated relocation to the site in 2008, would create a "one-stop" center for developers by bringing the ECIDA and its tenant, the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, under the same roof as the Buffalo office of the Empire State Development Corporation and the New York Power Authority.


The ECIDA would lease 6,143 square feet of space with access to another 4,578 square foot of common area on the fourth floor of the mixed use structure. The ECIDA is currently owns its Genesee Street headquarters.


Among the issues it will contemplate as it weighs the move are leasing out its current home or selling the facility. It previously sold most of its complex to Enterprise Charter School.


The mixed-use building at 95 Perry St. is owned by Savarino Companies and includes apartments and a restaurant.


The agency board also voted to consider issuing a Request for Proposals for legal services.  Harris Beach, hired in 2009, currently serves as its general counsel.


The ECIDA's Governance Committee recommended the agency review its options for legal representation, exploring the possibility of hiring multiple firms to handle various legal duties such as bond counsel, tax incentive project counsel and loan counsel.


The board also voted to create a search process to hire a new chief executive officer.  In mid-January, Alfred D. "Al" Culliton, the ECIDA's Chief Operating Officer and Acting Chief Executive Officer, announced he will retire as of December 31st.

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